This recipe was really popular many years back when it was publish in New York Times. If you do a search of this title, or Jim Lahey, you will see many, many, many websites or blogs giving wonderful reviews of it.
Tastewise, this bread is crusty, savoury and chewy. Not quite our Asian style soft bread. But it is very delicious on its own or just a slab of butter.
What you trade for kneading is time. So the wheat flavor is complex and developed, even with so few ingredients.
I’ve made a few adaptations because I don’t have banneton to proof nor a Dutch oven to bake. So I make do. I have also reduced the proportion of water as the original recipe was too wet for me to handle. Even now, it is still super wet at 85% hydration, so be patient in handling. Do click the link below if you wish to try the original recipe.
Recipe (Jim Lahey)
- 250g plain flour or bread flour ( I tried both and results are the same. Replace 90g with Wholemeal flour if preferred.)
- 210g water
- 1/4 tsp or 1g instant yeast
- 1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp mixed herbs (optional)
1. Add all dry ingredients in a bowl and ensure they are evenly mixed. Add water and mix with spoon roughly, so long as no dry flour left.
2. Clingwrap and leave on countertop for at least 12 hours. There is a lot of flexibility here. You can leave on counter for at least 3 hours, then put in the fridge overnight (and up to 3 days) take out and return to room temperature before going to the next step. Just ensure at least 12 hours of proofing, but no more than 3 days in the fridge. It will look bubbly and more than double in size like below.
3. Heavily flour a work surface. Turn out dough which is bubbly and super sticky. Flour your hands and a scraper and try to stretch and fold the sides inwards. Cover and rest for 15 min. Be gentle and don’t destroy the big bubbles within.
4. After resting, turn dough over and slowly shape into a ball by using a floured scraper to tuck the edges in.
5. Proof in a well floured banneton if you have one. For me, I proof it on the lined baking tray as shown above, placed in a switched off oven. You can also proof in a loaf pan. Proof for 2 hours.
6. Before proofing time is up, heat the oven to 200 deg C.
7. After proofing is done, place the dough on the baking tray into the oven and cover with a stainless steel bowl. This traps moisture and creates the crust. You can do some scoring if you wish.
8. Remove bowl after 30 min of baking and continue to bake for another 20 min till golden brown.
9. Wait till completely cool before slicing. Enjoy immediately!